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Shopping online? Here’s some free money from Ebates, Upromise and RetailMeNot

If you’re shopping online, it makes cents to use rebate and coupon-code websites for your favorite retailers.

Sites such as, and put extra money in your pocket, are simple to use and free to join. Check them out before you buy and get cash back at participating retailers including Macy’s, Walmart, Apple, Sears, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Target, to name a few.

You can score coupon codes and free-shipping offers, as well as retail coupons to be used offline.
“It’s crazy not to use these sites,” says savings expert Mary Pat Pankoke, right, of Parkland. “They are going to give you a percentage back on what you are already spending, so get some of it back, even if it’s just sales tax.”

Each site offers unique ways to save. “Often, you’ll find additional coupon codes you can use when you check out, for even more savings that are exclusive to those sites,” says Pankoke, who teaches coupon classes around South Florida and writes about bargains at

Karen Goldfarb, a Boynton Beach financial writer and mother of two, says she’s earned $180 using since 2009.

“It’s free money,” she says. “That’s pretty good just for clicking through their site to a participating retailer. It’s a no-brainer.”

Here’s how these sites work:

ebates.gif Register with an email address and click one of 1,500 retailers listed on the site to get an e-rebate on your total purchase. (Example: Get 8 percent back on a purchase at JC Penney and Kohl’s, or 6 percent at Macy’s.) There are no fees or forms to mail. The site claims to have saved members more than $100 million. It’s free to register. Plus, you get a free $10 gift card at Target or Home Depot when you join and make a $25 purchase at any retailer on the site. Checks for $5.01 or more in accrued purchases are mailed four times a year.

Tip: “Watch for Ebates bonus days, particularly around the holidays,” Pankoke says. “We used Ebates when purchasing Halloween costumes and saved about $40 because it was a double Ebates bonus day, plus they had a 20 percent coupon code advertised on the site.”

UpromiseLogo-1.jpg Register and start earning money toward college tuition (or opt for cash back) at more than 800 online stores (up to 5 percent back), 8,000 restaurants (up to 8 percent back) and travel (up to 4 percent back). Get credit for online purchases after clicking on a participating retailer. Link a credit or debit card and pay using that card at participating restaurants and earn cash in your account. Redeem your earnings into a high-yield Sallie Mae savings account, student loan, or 529 account, or request a check. Or, link existing college accounts. Transactions post in 30 to 90 days. Upromise and its partners have paid out more than $500 million, according to the site. Save even more with the Upromise TurboSaver.

Tip: Go to the Upromise site to activate digital coupons each month. The coupons will not lower your grocery bill, but rather the coupons’ value will be added to your account. “You can link your CVS or Winn-Dixie reward cards so when you redeem e-coupons the value will be deposited into your Upromise account,” Pankoke says. “Also, pick up a little green Upromise card at Publix and scan it to redeem e-coupons since Publix does not have a reward card.”

retailmenot_logo_lg.png The largest coupon site online, it’s made up of a community of bargain hunters who post promotional coupon codes and deals. Example: Use code NEONPINK at Victoria's Secret to get a free backpack with purchase. Another code (FALL12) offers $15 off a $100 purchase online. RetailMeNot also offers thousands of printable grocery and store coupons. Search for coupons without creating an account, but some content requires free registration.

Tip: Check here before you buy anything online to see if you can save something, even if it’s free shipping. “I use RetailMeNot to find printable coupons that can be redeemed at brick-and-mortar stores,” Pankoke says. “With those, I can save 20 percent to 40 percent at stores like Jo-Ann Fabric or Michael’s.”

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

Categories: Coupons (765), Rebates (22), Shopping Advice (124)

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About the authors
Doreen Christensen has never paid full price for anything. If there is a way to save on something, she will find it and share how you can save, too. Doreen is a senior reporter covering consumer news, health, beauty and features for the online and print editions of the Sun Sentinel. A 32-year veteran of the newspaper, she previously was a senior copy editor on the universal copy desk. Doreen spends her time off hunting bargains, clipping coupons, gardening and traveling.

Justine Griffin covers retail and marine business for the Sun Sentinel. She is a Tampa Bay native who graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010. After spending a year covering crime in St. Augustine, Fla., she moved to Fort Lauderdale and made the switch to business journalism. When she’s not writing, she’s riding horses and spending time with her whippet puppy, Josie.

Marcia Heroux Pounds is the Sun Sentinel's workplace columnist when she's not shopping for shoes. She also writes about small business, which allows her to visit many of South Florida's unique shops and boutiques.

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